By Nicky Hallberg
When Hilary first asked me to share my testimony I had a bit of a “Moses moment” thinking “Me? Speak, Really? What have I got to share that anybody would want to hear? After all I’ve been out of fellowship for years and only recently come back to church”. Then I thought “Actually, you know what, the fact that I AM here…back where I belong…IS something to share and give God glory for, because He’s done it! So I checked my diary and realised that it’s actually not so recent; I’ve actually been back in fellowship just about a year. I wrote in my diary on that day “….Went to church, first time in so long. Don’t know where to go from here”.
You see I knew I was on the right track, I’d always known I’d have to come back because I hadn’t stopped believing and knew it was the path I should be walking, but I didn’t know what lay ahead and that scared me. I guess the battle was 3-fold. The first part was the guilt for all the stuff I’d done and the person I’d been whilst out of fellowship. The second part of the battle was having to leave behind all the bits of that time that I kind of wanted to hang on to, and the final part of the battle in coming back was fear of history repeating itself and letting God and my brothers and sisters down again.
The first part God dealt with as soon as I got serious and repented and sincerely returned to Him for mercy and forgiveness. When I did this He gave me peace and restored the joy of my salvation. The second part of the battle I’m still fighting, ….it’s a work in progress as they say, because I had drawn back into the world and was enjoying myself, going away for weekends (drinking and getting mixed up with people I really should have kept away from) and having fun. But the Lord has done great things this last year. The situation in the place I was spending my weekends away changed so even if I wanted to go it just wasn’t possible, but I was still drinking more than was good for me.
I did talk to the Lord about it and soon after read this in Isaiah “SEE I HAVE TAKEN OUT OF YOUR HAND THE CUP THAT MADE YOU STAGGER” (Isa 51:22) Well!! Talk about words jumping off the page at you….to me there was no mistaking this. But rebellious and stubborn as ever I hung on to that which helped me cope with tough days at work and boring weekends. I thought to myself “I’ll just cut down, I’ll be fine”. But He hadn’t said anything about cutting down….He said it was taken away. I learned the hard way, like a child, to do what my dad says. So now I don’t drink. That’s just one instance that showed me He wants me to clear out, or at least put in their proper place things that were important to me. I feel like all this stuff needs stripping away so I’m left with the only thing that really matters….God and my relationship with Him. He’s shown me how precious to Him my prayer time is. That no matter how much I struggle with it, no matter how ineloquent I sound, He treasures that time I spend with Him. I hope that encourages you all too. I’ve also been blessed with opportunities to witness to workmates and friends, my parents came to our carol concert at Christmas, giving tracts to strangers, even giving someone a cheerful “Good morning” on my way to work has been a blessing to me.
Weeks ago I was reading my bible and thought, “All God wanted from these people was for them to trust and obey Him”. Then at church a couple of hours later, what was the song I heard? “Trust and Obey”! I could hardly sing it for smiling because it just confirmed what I’d thought as I’d been reading.
At Andy King’s recently a phrase he kept using was “God is in control”. That’s something else I’m learning that is giving me peace. Nothing happens that He doesn’t know about. So, hard as some stuff is to deal with, He’s sovereign and He knows what He’s doing. From the very thing I’m sharing today about the last year, even to the old school friend I’m visiting soon (after 30 years) after finding her on Facebook (was it a coincidence? I don’t think so). God is in control.
It’s not all been easy this year. Even this last week I’ve struggled. I’ve been tired because I haven’t slept well, I’ve had a cold, and not been as close to the Lord as I should; so when I was asked to share today I initially thought I wasn’t in the right place to do it. But you know what? The fact I’ve had a rough week doesn’t take away from Gods love, mercy, grace, patience and faithfulness. All which I’ve been blessed reading about in the Word. Neither does it change all He’s done for me and in me this last year. You guys have blessed me this year too. I smile when I see Paul and remember how people were praying for him when I first became part of Celebration Church. I’m blessed when I see Sue and Tony make it to fellowship in the midst of all they’re dealing with. All of you bless and encourage me, so thank you.
Apologies to Dawn, I know dog stories are her department but I saw something someone recorded and put on Facebook, and it spoke volumes to me…so I want to share it. ‘A dog had got caught in a fence in America. It was on its back with one back paw caught up in the fence and was occasionally yelping in pain. A policeman came along, spoke soothingly to the dog as he approached and with some pliers cut the links in the fence. With a final yelp as it was freed the dog ran off to lick his wounds. Shortly after, the policeman, before he left went to look for the dog to check it was ok. He turned a corner to his truck and there in the passenger seat sat the dog. That dog knew where he wanted to be. He knew the one whose voice had soothed him and the one who had set him free and he wanted to stay with that cop and go wherever he was going, just like we need to stay with the Lord and go wherever He wants to take us.’